St. Patrick is the most well-known of the patron saints of Ireland and every year on March 17th, Irish folk around the world celebrate in his honor. Nowhere is this day observed with more passion than in Dublin. It is a public holiday in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and just about every business closes up for the day, unless they are a bar or restaurant.
Crowds of people dressed mainly in green and decorated with shamrocks knock back pints of Guinness and generally have a good time. Christians will attend church services to offer prayers for missionaries worldwide before they get down to the serious business of eating and drinking.
The parades and floats in Dublin stretch for miles and go on for a couple of hours before everyone filters into the pubs and clubs. The Guinness Storehouse throws a massive party and has around 8,000 visitors on St. Patrick’s Day. There are festivals and events held all across the city, with fun runs, pancake races, marching bands, bagpipes and of course just a few leprechauns!
Here are some great hotels for St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin:
Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in style and stay at this five-star Dublin hotel. Located only a 10-minute stroll from St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street, and the O2 right in the city center, this boutique hotel in Ballsbridge is a great place to stay if you want to be in the middle of the action. An award-winning restaurant and a super cocktail bar offer the finest bistro cuisine and an unrivaled selection of drinks.
The 44 rooms at the Dylan Hotel are individually designed, all providing the same high standards of comfort and impeccable service. The bathrooms are superbly appointed with Italian marble, luxury bathrobes, and lush toiletries. For a jet-set lifestyle, stay in one of the Experience or Signature rooms. Larger than average with many extras, even the bathroom has its own TV!
Located in a prime position between St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street, this luxurious hotel in Dublin offers guests calm and tranquility on one side and hustle and bustle on the other. It is only a few steps to sophisticated shopping and a selection of bars and restaurants.
There is a choice of places to eat and drink without leaving the plush comfort of the Fitzwilliam Hotel. Citron serves innovative and exciting Mediterranean cuisine while the Inn on the Green bar has an extensive menu of fine wines, cocktails, and drinks. The Michelin starred Thornton’s Restaurant offers an unforgettable fine dining experience.
The chic rooms are all unique in design and offer unsurpassed luxury from the duck down duvets to the big fluffy bathrobes. The top of the range deluxe premium room has a balcony that overlooks St. Stephen’s Green, where you can enjoy coffee or breakfast in privacy. For a relaxing treat, the Spirit Treatment salon offers guest the chance to enjoy a spa, massage, or facial before going out on the town.
Temple Bar Hotel
This 130-room hotel is rated three stars by the AA and is in a great location for a city break in Dublin. Every possible amenity is on the doorstep of the Temple Bar Hotel: Croke Park, O2, Grafton Street, Dublin Castle, St. Stephen’s Green, the list is endless.
The Terrace Restaurant offers a fine selection of meals using locally-sourced ingredients and cooked by some of the finest chefs. The perfect spot in the hotel for a wee dram before or after dinner has to be Whiskey Corner. This traditional bar offers a retreat from the nosy and vibrant world outside and guests do tend to linger. The staff are friendly and there are free newspapers and wide-screen televisions to keep up to date with all the news.
The comfortable rooms all have a flat-screen TV, hair dryers, cozy duvets, and hospitality trays, but there are a range of different rooms to choose from. The Executive rooms have bigger beds, work desks, and fridges. If you are with a group of friends, reserve Room 134, which sleeps up to six people and has plenty of storage space, plus two showers.
This famous Dublin hotel has been welcoming guests for over 100 years. Within walking distance are Dublin Castle, College Green, and West Essex Street, where the Smock Alley Theatre once stood. The two magnificent cathedrals of Christ Church and St. Patrick are close by and well worth visiting.
The Library Bar in the hotel is a winner of the National Hospitality Awards and it is easy to see why. The relaxing atmosphere with its assortment of chairs, coffee tables, and bookcases is just the place for a morning coffee, light lunch, or a post-dinner drink. Naturally, they serve an excellent pint of the black stuff and once upon a time were voted the number one pub for Guinness in Dublin. The guest rooms here are all spacious and modern with cable TV, a coffee maker, a telephone, and a hair dryer. There are suites and family rooms available as well at Central Hotel.
A stone’s throw from the shops, pubs, clubs, and bars is Sky Backpackers. This former recording studio once played host to stars like U2, David Bowie, and The Cranberries. Music is still a big part of the hostel and there are plenty of gigs held in the common room.
For accommodation on a budget, you can’t beat staying in this Dublin hostel. Accommodation is in private rooms, mixed dorms, or female only dorms. There are hot showers, washing machines and dryers, 24 hour reception, free Wifi, and common rooms with cable and Apple TV. Towels and hairdryers can be rented but bed linen is included.
Sky offers a long list of events to guests, many of them free. Learn about the history of Dublin with the Viking Walking tour or go out at night with one of the guides on the Viking Pub Crawl. There are cheese and wine events, free dinners, pancakes, and music nights to enjoy.
Compared to some of the bigger and more well-known hotel chains, Ace is a relative newcomer to the market. The first Ace Hotel opened in the last decade of the 20th Century in Seattle when three friends purchased a Salvation Army halfway house in Belltown. Doug Herrick, Wade Weigel, and Alex Calderwood transformed the rehabilitation center into a stylish yet affordable Seattle hotel.
The main focus of the three friends was to offer good quality accommodation to the group of people known in the USA as the Creative Class. This socioeconomic class was identified in 2002 by Richard Florida, an American social scientist and economist, and gives the enterprising trio a target clientele of 40 million workers or about 30% of the American workforce.
In 2007, Jack Barron came on board and the second Ace Hotel opened in Portland. Other locations so far are New York, London, Panama, Palm Springs, and, the newest, Los Angeles. The goal of Ace Hotels is to open in a new location every two years, though the success of the group was marred by the death of Calderwood in November 2013, just after the opening of the London hotel.
Ace hotels all offer the same high level of facilities and services with highly trained staff that are committed to making sure that guests enjoy their stay. But this is where the similarity ends, as the style of each hotel is influenced by local artists and designers. The brand tries to stay faithful to the origins of each building it takes over, incorporating existing features where possible. For example, the Ace Hotel New York City features an amazing, oversized lobby with enormous ceilings–it’s decorated with beautiful, simple art and has become a great place for locals to meet, spend a few hours working, and enjoy a drink at the bar. Individual, minimalist, boutique, and contemporary are all words that can be applied to Ace Hotels.
The most recent city to benefit from the Ace brand is Los Angeles. The historic and eye-catching United Artists building has been saved from an uncertain future by being converted by Ace into a 13-story hotel. Built in 1927, it was the tallest building in the city for just a year and was the tallest structure to be privately owned until 1956.
After serving as the United Artists flagship theater, the building found new life in 1969 as the Los Angeles University Cathedral with live Sunday services broadcast by Gene Scott. After Scott’s death in 2005, the Spanish Gothic style building was eventually bought by Ace Hotels in 2011.
The Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles opened in January 2014 to the roar of a rock concert, and to keep the musical theme alive, a dance company will be in residence in the newly refurbished United Artists Theater, which takes up three floors of the building and can seat 1,600 people.
This new Los Angeles hotel has 180 bedrooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar. Guests have a wide choice of rooms; all ensuite with complimentary toiletries, a flat screen TV, a Revo Radio, and free Internet. Small rooms have a queen size bed and the medium-sized rooms have two queen sized beds and a small terrace. Loft rooms have a kitchenette for cooking up a few snacks and the Terrace Suite offers a king size bed, a kitchenette, and a large private terrace.
From the rooftop pool and bar, guests can take in to-die-for views of LA, stretching out in every direction. In the daytime, the buzz of the world below going about its business can clearly be seen from your 250-foot high perch. At night, the mysteries of the city unfold with shimmering lights and music playing.
The LA Chapter Brasserie in the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles offers food created by some of Brooklyn’s finest chefs. Locally sourced and lovingly prepared, the menu offers a wide choice of dishes. Whether you fancy something different like Sea Urchins in Pasta Noodles or a good old-fashioned American hamburger, there is bound to be something to tantalize your tastebuds.
Spain is famous for its ferias, festivals, music, and dancing and none more so than Las Fallas in Valencia. If you are in the city in March, you will not be able to escape the spectacular sights and sounds of a city being brought to life with firecrackers and non-stop fun. This week-long celebration is a display of pyrotechnics, noise, fires, dancing, and fireworks that you will never forget. It has been estimated that anywhere between two and three million people flock to the center of Valencia to see this amazing show.
Las Fallas is celebrated in honor of St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and to celebrate the spring equinox. The word Fallas covers both the actual celebration and the huge papier-mâché people or ninots. The tradition is thought to date from the Middle Ages when craftsmen burned their scraps of wood and broken objects with the coming of spring.
The 15-meter tall Fallas are made from wood and papier-mâché and can take their dedicated creators all year to make. These effigies are usually based on famous folk, the current trend being toward politicians and celebrities. Each neighborhood organizes its own Fallas and competition is fierce to come up with the most satirical.
If you are in Valencia for the party, don’t be alarmed when you are woken every morning of the festival at 8am by extremely loud bangs. This is La Despertà, or the wake-up call–it is just firecrackers in the street, not the hotel falling down!
In the Plaza del Ayuntamiento at 2pm promptly every day, the earth-shattering cracks of the mascletàs, yet more firecrackers, can be heard. The firecrackers are strung across the plaza by the men of the town and the whole square shakes when they are lit. The deafening sounds from the cannon-like explosions can be heard all across the city and the noise is so bad that pregnant women are banned from attending.
The week-long festival starts properly on the 12th of March when the streets become alive with brightly colored floats, parades, competitions, and much music and dancing. After the first few days of singing, dancing, and partying, the Fallas are put out on the streets overnight on the 15th/16th March.
For the next few days, these usually unkind effigies are much admired by the locals and visitors wandering around the town. The Valencianos are very proud of their heritage and traditional dress is worn by many people. The streets are lined with stalls serving typically Spanish food and drinks, with flamenco and party music everywhere.
As if the countless food and drink stalls were not enough to feed the crowds, there are enormous batches of paella cooked in the streets. Specialist companies set out giant paella pans (seen above) ready to feed the hungry hoards a delicious combination of seafood, chicken, and pork mixed in with plenty of bright yellow rice. Some of the paella pans can be several meters in diameter and the rice in them will be locally grown as Valencia is famous for its paddy fields.
On the final evening of 19th March, the Cabalgata del Fuego or Fire Parade takes place. This grand finale is a colorful and very noisy event that features various displays and rites from around the world that use fire.
After the processions comes the climax of the whole event: La Cremà or the Burning. It should officially start at midnight, but is more often than not quite a bit later! The Fallas are not only made of highly flammable and combustible materials, but they are also filled with fireworks to make sure they depart this world with a bang. They burn very rapidly and the heat is intense, so safety is paramount and barriers are erected by the fire brigade so that spectators stay at a sensible distance. However, in the very narrow streets, the houses do tend to suffer some scorch marks. The firemen douse windows, façades, and signs to try to limit the damage!
If you thought that the city was wild before, then just wait until after the last Fallas in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento has been burned. Then the party really starts! The whole city resembles an open-air dance party as young and old frolic together just enjoying life in Valencia.
There is a lot to keep in mind when booking your Valencia hotel during Las Fallas. After all, this is a noisy festival. So, you’re going to have to decide if you want to celebrate like the locals do or if you want to get some sleep. That will help dictate what area you stay in.
If you want to be able to get away from the chaos and relax at the end of the night, then consider staying outside of the city center. Valencia Norte, Rufaza, and Patraix are great neighborhood options. Here are some hotels to check out:
Melia Plaza Valencia
Treat yourself to some four-star luxury in this super hotel on Plaza del Ayuntamiento. All of the main attractions of this wonderful city are right on the doorstep, including La Lonja de la Seda, Valencia Cathedral, and many trendy boutiques and tapas bars.
The name might you think of backpackers and shared dorms but you couldn’t be more wrong. Officially classed as a guest house but offering three star accommodation this is a great choice. Staying here means you will be close to the heart of the city and the party, what more could you want?
Mare de Deu Canovas Bed and Breakfast
Less than a couple of kilometers from Valencia Cathedral and the heart of the city this is a more peaceful option for Las Fallas. This guest house offers bright rooms, all individually decorated, with a choice of shared or private facilities.
This hotel is midway between the heart of Valencia and the City of Arts and Sciences complex. The newly renovated smart designer hotel has a selection of rooms and suites to suit every taste. If you are not too tired after wandering round admiring the effigies of Las Fallas there is a state of the art gym in the hotel to burn off a few calories.
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